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Pet adoptions in the United States are still as strong as cats and dogs melt away stress

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Feral Cat Leadership Strategy Director Elyise Hallenbeck bottle-feeds a 4-week-old kitten in New York, New York, USA on April 30, 2021. REUTERS / Roselle Chen

Pet adoptions in the United States are still frolic as stressed families seek warm, fuzzy relief, even with easier lockdowns.

Adoption rates at animal shelters soared 40% in 2020 from the previous year as people faced isolation during the height of the pandemic.

“There has been such an outpouring from the community for both promotion and adoption since the pandemic,” said Leslie Granger, president and CEO of Bideawee, a nonprofit group of New York City, which has found loving homes for rescued animals since 1903.

“In the first week of March alone, we saw over 700 requests for foster care from families in the New York City area,” said Granger.

“We’ve had an incredible demand for people wanting to foster and adopt over the past year and we don’t see it slowing down. People are still coming.”

In the 10,000 square foot Bideawee building in Manhattan, approximately 40 pets are up for adoption. Eight-week-old puppies frolic and a kitten bottle-feeds inside the shelter, whose name means ‘stay awhile’ in Scottish.

Bideawee’s no-kill policy differs from shelters that put animals to sleep if not adopted after a certain period of time.

Even as people open their homes to pets, some pet owners stressed by COVID have thrown unwanted animals onto the streets. Cats can have five litters per year resulting in a boom in the stray cat population.

Bideawee teaches cat lovers how to trap and sterilize feral cats, “which is the only humane way to reduce the community’s cat population,” said Elyise Hallenbeck, director of leadership strategy for Bideawee’s Feral Cat Initiative .

Enrollment has skyrocketed as courses have gone online.

“Usually before the pandemic we would have 30 people in our yards,” she said. “Today we receive more than 300 from all over the world, including countries like Saudi Arabia, Alaska, Brazil, Mexico and Australia.

While Hallenbeck was nursing Bodie, a 4-week-old kitten, she said her feral mother died shortly after giving birth on the street.

“If you’re having a bad time at work, you can always take a little time out and get puppy smoochs or kitten hugs,” Granger said.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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